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Tag:Michigan
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:

 

1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.

 

1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska

 

2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami

 

2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas

 

2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa

 

2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas

 

2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California

 

2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

 

2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU

 

2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech

 

2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama

 

2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati

 

2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford

 

 

2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina

 

Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:27 pm
 

A plus-one playoff through the years: 2003-2007

In the second installment of our plus-one lookback (2003-2007), USC takes over from Miami to forge a dynasty before the SEC begins to go reticulated python on college football.  Oh, and sorry Texas. That 2005 title never happened.

(All plus-one games played on neutral fields. Here’s how things looked from 1998-2002.)

 

2003

BCS champion: LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

The setup:  By now, epic BCS fails were becoming commonplace. This time Oklahoma blew through the first 12 games of the season winning by an average of more than 32 points. That was before a four-touchdown loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

So much for the dangers of losing late.  Not only didn’t No. 1 OU fall out of the top two, it didn’t fall from the top spot! (It dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the human polls.) That was the first problem.  The second, more significant issue, is that USC was a consensus No. 1 in the human polls but No. 3 in the BCS.

Complicating matters, if that was possible, was three major-college, one-loss teams occupying the top three spots in the final BCS (OU, LSU, USC). One of them didn’t win its conference. The BCS commissioners swallowed hard, averted their eyes and tried to explain an LSU-Oklahoma championship game. The final absurdity: That meant the coaches poll would not even be considering its No. 1 team (USC) for the national championship.

Thank goodness for the AP poll.  After USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, AP gave its final No. 1 ranking to the Trojans. For the first time in the BCS era, there was a split national championship. While that was OK with most folks, certain LSU fans couldn’t stomach sharing anything with anyone. Two things wrong with that: Like five other teams prior to the bowls that year, LSU was a one-loss team. By now it was becoming clear that if you lose a game in the BCS system, you lose the right to argue.

Isn’t it enough that national championships are forever? I still get emails from angry Tiger fans who claim they are the true national champs. Who cares?

How a four-team playoff would have changed things:  No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Michigan, No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC. OU would have easily mauled Michigan. The Rose Bowl that season proved it. USC outclassed the slower Wolverines by two touchdowns in Pasadena. Oklahoma 35, Michigan 17.

Many would have considered LSU-USC the real championship game. This was the year LSU freshman sensation Justin Vincent ran for 1,000 yards. Defensive tackle Chad Lavalais was the SEC defensive player of the year. USC had Reggie Bush as a freshman, Matt Leinart as a sophomore throwing to the  fantastic Mike Williams. This was the beginning of a Troy dynasty with the Trojans at least playing for three consecutive national championships in the real world. In this alternative universe it would have been a thriller, USC 27, LSU 20.

Championship game: Heisman winner Jason White was beat up for the Sooners at this point in the season. He hung in gamely against LSU but the Tigers defense and the Superdome crowd were too much. USC would have brought a similar kind of hurt. USC 23, Oklahoma 14.

Fantasy quote: “Sure we deserve a championship berth. It wasn’t like we lost to K-State by five touchdowns.” –Bob Stoops.

Who got screwed: Obviously USC, but AP was there to bail it out. That would change after the 2004 season, though, as the news organization rethought its influence on the national championship race and the money that went with it.

 

2004

BCS champion: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

The setup: For the first time in the BCS era, three undefeated teams stood atop the polls at the end. The BCS quickly realized that three don’t fit into two championship berths. Auburn eventually “lost”. There is still the lasting image of Tommy Tuberville working the press box for AP votes at the Orange Bowl after the BCS had kept the undefeated SEC champions out of the BCS title game. While the Trojans and Sooners played, Auburn’s coach was literally glad-handing media, hoping against hope.

It didn’t happen for Auburn which finished third in the BCS and second in the final human polls. SEC types were outraged that their undefeated champion wasn’t worthy of playing for it all. As you might have noticed, things would change quickly for the SEC.

The difference was Auburn’s non-conference schedule and perhaps an Oklahoma-friendly Bowling Green AD.  Elsewhere, both the Trojans and Sooners were in the middle of historic runs. OU played in its third championship game since 2000. USC was in the middle of its own 34-game winning streak. Only Stanford, Cal and UCLA came within a touchdown of the Trojans that season.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn.  Texas wasn’t quite there yet despite 1,000-yard rushing seasons from both Cedric Benson and Vince Young. Meanwhile, USC sported a Heisman winner (Leinart) as well as three other consensus All-Americans. This was arguably the best Trojan team of the Pete Carroll era. USC 37, Texas 24.

Would have loved to see the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (Auburn) against No. 8 in total offense (Oklahoma). Using LSU’s D in 2003 as evidence, OU doesn’t show up offensively in a plus-one against a quality SEC defense. Auburn 25, Oklahoma 21.

Championship game: Auburn gets its title shot but just can’t overcome perhaps the team of the decade. USC 26, Auburn 13.

Fantasy quote: “How many voters does a commissioner have to bribe for the SEC to get to the championship game?” – Mike Slive

Real quote: “Where’s Your God Now?” – sign taunting BYU fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the final seconds of Utah’s 52-21 win over the Cougars that clinched the Utes’ first BCS berth.

Who got screwed: Cal. With one BCS bowl berth left, the No. 5 Bears lost a propaganda war with No. 4 Texas. Both were 10-1 on pick ‘em day. Knowing that finishing at No. 4 guaranteed his team a BCS bowl, Mack Brown had no problem campaigning for his Longhorns while Cal’s Jeff Tedford pretty much refused to engage.

Cal would have been the obvious Pac-10 replacement in the Rose Bowl with USC playing for the national championship. But Texas’ bum rush created feelings that what Bevo wants, Bevo gets long before the Longhorn Network.

“"I guess we didn't run up the score at the end, or beg for votes after the game," Cal’s Aaron Rodgers said. "I thought it was [wrong] for coach Brown to beg for votes.”

AP withdrew its poll from the BCS after the controversy.



2005

BCS champion: Texas 41, USC 38

The setup: On paper USC never won a game this season. On the field, it ravaged the field. We would find out years later that Bush competed the entire 2005 season while ineligible having taken cash and benefits from two would-be agents.

Dismiss that from your mind considering how these Trojans were completing that 34-game winning streak. They failed to score less than 34 in any game. They scored at least 50 in seven games. They scored 60 twice and 70 once. This was the team that couldn’t be outscored -- until it was, by Vince Young.

On the night of Jan. 5, 2006 Texas’ quarterback proved himself to be the best player in the school’s glorious history. Completing a game in which he had almost 500 yards in total offense, Young pulled it down and scored the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.

USC was denied a third straight national championship. Texas won its first in 35 years because of a singular talent.

"Without question that was the best [performance] by one guy [I've seen]," Pete Carroll said.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State. Anyone else have a letdown here? Ohio State was a year away in 2005 having lost to Texas and Penn State in the regular season. JoePa rebounded from downturn to begin the century to grab a share of the Big Ten. It is interesting that two Big Ten teams would have been in a plus-one. Does it matter, though, given the greatness at the top?

USC 42, Ohio State 20. Texas 44, Penn State 17.

Championship game: With his defense gassed and resting on the sidelines, this time Carroll decides to use Bush on fourth down. In the real game he didn’t. That allowed Texas to stop LenDale White on fourth down which led to the Horns’ winning drive. USC 38, Texas 35.

Fantasy quote: “I’m predicting two Super Bowls for Vince Young.” – Beano Cook

Who got screwed:  USC players who gave their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears for the program only to have the season ripped away in disgrace because of Bush’s selfishness. In case you forgot, the NCAA vacated USC’s 2005 season as part of the Bush penalties.

 

2006

BCS champion: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

In the latest BCS game ever played (Jan. 9), the system began to take different turns. Double-hosting debuted. A few days before the Gators swamped the Buckeyes, Boise beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in one of the sport’s greatest upsets. A player proposed to a cheerleader. The Broncos proved they could play with the big boys, a cry that still is ringing in our ears today.

Oh yeah, and the SEC started a streak for the ages. The first of six consecutive titles by the Strength Everywhere Conference began with Florida thrashing Ohio State.

That year the immortal Chris Leak was backed up at Florida by some kid named Tebow. During the season we were treated to the jump pass, winning a game by a fingernail and first of two national championships by Urban Meyer.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 LSU, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan. The Buckeyes blitzed through the regular season setting up Jim Tressel for his second national championship in five years. Les Miles was just getting going, posting his second straight 11-2 season. We were going to see LSU-Ohio State in 2007 anyway. In a playoff, the Buckeyes arrived a year early with Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and company winning a close one. Ohio State 31, LSU 27.

Denied a rematch with Ohio State by the pollsters and computers, Michigan would have welcomed a playoff. Coming off one of the most emotional games in Michigan history (losing to Ohio State the day after Bo Schembechler’s passing), there was a chance to sneak in the back door for a national championship. Florida’s D would have denied it. Florida 37, Michigan 21.

Championship: We’re assuming that Ginn Jr. doesn’t injure his foot celebrating a kickoff return. We still can’t assume Ohio State would have an answer for Florida’s team speed. Florida 31, Ohio State 21.

Fantasy quote: “We got tattooed.” – Tressel.

Who gagged: USC. Needing only to win over sliding UCLA to play for another title, the Trojans coughed up one of the program’s largest hairballs. The 13-9 loss to the Bruins on the last day of the regular season remains inexplicable to this day except to then-UCLA defensive  coordinator DeWayne Walker. He helped hold the Trojans to less than 20 points for the first time in 64 games

 


2007

BCS champion: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

Let’s see … LSU in New Orleans? Again? Call it another unintended consequence of the BCS. The commissioners probably never imagined the Tigers being good at the exact same time the Superdome was hosting the big game. Call it purple and gold serendipity.

And luck. In the fastest and more furious finish of the BCS era, both No. 1 (Missouri) and No. 2 (West Virginia) lost on the last day of the season allowing  the Buckeyes and Tigers to move up. A week earlier, LSU had lost at home, giving up 50 to Arkansas. After beating Tennessee in the SEC championship game, the Tigers moved from No. 7 to No. 2.

How a four-team playoff would have changed things: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma. No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech. This was an unspectacular Oklahoma team that lost to Colorado and Texas Tech before being smoked by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 23.

In a plus-one, the ACC champion would have played for a national championship in a rematch we didn’t need to see. In the second week of the season, the Tigers smoked the Hokies 48-7 in Baton Rouge. Play it again, Les? LSU 33, Virginia Tech 14.

Championship game: What hurt Buckeye pride is that LSU was the last comic standing in 2007 in a wild finish to the season. The Tigers were the first two-loss team to win a national championship in 47 years. And still, LSU was able to score 31 unanswered to bury the Bucks. By now, the jokes and labels associated with Ohio State were beginning to leave a mark.

“Yeah, and that hurts," said Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, "just because the media really builds it up like we are slow and all that stuff."

The Bucks football reputation was in tatters after two straight championship losses. In a few years, that rep was about to get a whole lost worse. LSU 42, Ohio State 17.

 Fantasy quote: “Next?” – SEC

Who got screwed: The fans. Hawaii was non-competitive against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl got three-loss Illinois to match against USC. West Virginia lost Rich Rod, then promoted Bill Stewart before a rout of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The average margin of victory in the five BCS bowls (20 points) was second only to 2002 (22.5 points).

Plus-one champions, 2003-2007: USC, USC, USC, Florida, LSU.

Tomorrow: A plus-one from 2008 to 2011.   

Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Looking back at 2011, ahead to 2012

Recapping 2011, anticipating 2012 (more or less) A-Z …



American Football Coaches Association: It was not a good year for the professional organization that counted Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno among its members. There wasn’t a peep of contrition or explanation in 2011 out of the old boys’ club that continues to have an ethics committee as part of its structure.

Meanwhile, the AFCA continues to rig a BCS system it profits from in the coaches’ poll. Before coaches demand accountability from media, players and assistants, they need to give up control of a poll that holds the purse strings to a multi-million system and awards its final No. 1 ranking to the BCS title game winner.


BCS: After the championship game, the BCS continues to deliver some stultifying matchups.

Michigan-Virginia Tech? (Where was Boise, Kansas State?)

Clemson-West Virginia? (Six combined losses?)

Oklahoma State-Stanford is nice in the Fiesta Bowl but there are those who believe the Cowboys should be playing LSU in New Orleans. A Plus-One wouldn’t totally fix things but we’d love to see one this season – No. 1 seed LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.

Unfortunately, the next chance for change, 2014, looks to be more of the same. The Pac-12 and Big Ten aren’t likely to allow the Rose Bowl to become a national semifinal. Even a Plus-One wouldn’t account for No. 7 Boise, a team that was a missed kick away from playing for the national championship.

 

BCS trivia: Nick Saban (4-1) and Les Miles (5-2) have each beaten Alabama at least four times as SEC coaches.

 

BYU: Courted by the Big 12 and Big East (at least) during conference realignment, BYU stood strong and stayed independent in 2011. Whether the Cougars’ status stays that way remains to be seen. Glory is still elusive. A seventh consecutive bowl resulted in the world’s largest Mormon school beating the FBS school with the smallest enrollment (Tulsa) in the final 12 seconds in the Armed Forces Bowl.

 

Charlie Weis: Quietly, Notre Dame’s former coach accounted for the biggest recruiting day in the history of Kansas football. On December 22, Weis lured quarterbacks Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU) as transfers.

OK, it’s only Kansas and it’s a couple former five-star quarterbacks who underachieved. But as long as Weis is in Lawrence, Kansas will be worth our attention. The Big 12 is a quarterback league. Weis has his for at least the next three years. He and the Jayhawks will be a story as Weis tries to rehab  his college coaching image.

Conference realignment: In the chase for money and automatic qualifying status, networks and commissioners couldn’t help themselves. They acted like businessmen at a strip club during happy hour, making it rain. The change was so fast and furious that we’re still not sure what conference West Virginia will play in 2012.

 

David Boren: Oklahoma’s president trashed the Big 12 and then-commissioner Dan Beebe one day. Then, after finding out 24 hours the Pac-12 wasn’t going to take his Sooners, he shifted stance and said he was actually trying to save the league.

Oklahoma’s former governor is a dangerous, manipulative, powerful, fascinating figure. Just don’t cross him. Boren ran Beebe out of the Big 12 in one of the great injustices of the year.

 

Death Cam: On the second-last day of 2011, there was a sobering warning for 2012. An ESPN SkyCam almost smashed an Iowa player Friday night during the Insight Bowl. Dear networks: Our desire to see every possible angle has been sated. We’ve got HD, blimps and replay. We don’t need a debilitating injury – or worse.

 

LaMichael James: Quietly – yes, quietly – “LaMike” became one of the era's most dangerous weapons and the best running back in Oregon history. If James stays for his senior season, which he is not likely to do, he would challenge Ron Dayne for the NCAAA career rushing record.

As it is, James will have plenty left for the NFL because of his efficiency (6.6 yards per carry, only 746 career carries). The question is, can the leading edge of Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense survive as a pro at only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds?

 

Lane Kiffin: Before Todd Graham jilted Pittsburgh, Monte’s boy was bolting Tennessee after a season. Funny, how we’ve forgotten. Lane matured before our eyes in 2011 leading the probation-crippled USC to a 10-2 record, including a win at Pac-12 champion Oregon.

It looks like the Trojans are back. This time, Kiffin isn’t going anywhere.

 

LSU: Look at the roster. It’s so young. The SEC defensive player of the year is a sophomore (Tyrann Mathieu). There are 13 sophomores (or younger) in the two-deep. On defense. These Tigers were built to win in 2012. This season has been gravy.

No matter what happens Jan. 9, the Tigers are a good bet to start as the 2012 preseason No. 1.

 

Matt Barkley: Probation, what probation? USC’s blond, Hollywood-ready quarterback is returning for his senior season Leinart-style. After a 10-win season during a second consecutive bowl-ban season, the Trojans will likely start 2012 in the top five and be the Pac-12 favorites.

 

Mike Leach: He’s baaaack and that’s good for all of us. The talk turns from lawsuits to alignments again for The Pirate who has been out of the game too long. Things are about to get real interesting in Pullman.



NCAA:
The sometimes secret association opened itself up in 2011 – to media, to the public, to its members. There were countless press releases. Some of them named names of wrongdoers, calling out Cecil Newton, calling out media Also, welcoming media during a revealing Enforcement Experience in May.

What a emerged was a more accessible NCAA but one that, at times, was more interested in promoting itself than addressing the issues. That August summit was a great idea but moved too fast to the point that groundbreaking stipend and scholarship legislation was overridden. The decision to allow the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl a year ago remains inexplicable.

 

Notre Dame: Weis recruited quarterbacks but couldn’t produce enough wins. So far, Brian Kelly can’t even get the quarterback thing straight. The Irish are becoming something they can never be – boring. After losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, ND is now 2-10 in its last 12 postseason games.

Its last two coaches have been decidedly offensive guys. Those Notre Dame offenses have, since 2005, finished 61st or worst more times (three) than they have in the top 10 (two). The 2007 unit under Weis was dead last. That’s an average of No. 46 in total offense since Weis arrived. That equates to the offensive standing of Virginia in 2011.

Before the Irish can return to national relevance, they have to become more exciting.



Offense:
With bowl games still to be factored in, the offensive revolution of college football continues.

The average figures for points per game (28.3), passing yards (229.4), completions (19.2) are all on pace to finish second all-time. The current total offense mark of 392.75 is ahead of the record set in 2007, 392.64.



Penn State:
The job left behind by JoePa has proved to be toxic to the coaching profession. At one point its reported top two choices – Tom Clements and Mike Munchak – had a <>total<> of four years college experience. Sixteen years ago.

 

SEC: You don’t have to be told again … The SEC is so dominant that the best football conference is assured of both its sixth straight title and first title game loss.

The league has used the BCS to make an unprecedented run. Voters and computers are conditioned to give the SEC champion the benefit of the doubt each season. Not saying that’s wrong, it just is. It’s sort of like the next Jay-Z album shooting to the top of the charts in preorders.


Twitter: In 2011, the Twitterverse became our universe. Use it as a tool to argue with a friend across from you on the cyber barstool or as a de facto wire service. Where were you when Bin Laden was killed and the Penn State scandal broke last year? Twitter followers and users brought us the news in real time.


Tyrann Mathieu: How does a 5-foot-9, 180-pound cornerback become the best defender in the country? Proving all the doubters wrong. Tennessee and Alabama deemed him too small to play. Les Miles to a chance on a local kid. What emerged was the best ball hawking corner since Charles Woodson. 


Will Lyles:
The former talent scout/mentor/Dancing With The Stars participant (Ok, kidding on that one) is the key figure in the NCAA futures of LSU, Cal and Oregon.

Lyles reportedly sang to the NCAA in August. That followed allegations that Chip Kelly’s program commissioned after-the-fact recruiting info that it had already paid $25,000 for. There is still the unsettling feeling that Oregon could be in for major sanctions in 2012.



ZZZ:
What we’d like to do a little more in 2012. Somehow, we know that’s not going to be the case. Let’s hope that college athletics regains a bit of its moral and ethical compass in 2012. 

Posted on: December 5, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Sugar-Fiesta were talking OU-OSU trade

The Sugar Bowl was actively seeking a trade of BCS teams with the Fiesta Bowl had Oklahoma beaten Oklahoma State, Sugar CEO Paul Hoolahan told CBSSports.com on Monday.

Hoolahan said he was in contact with Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas about working the deal that would have brought Oklahoma to New Orleans in exchange for Oklahoma State. That would have relieved Oklahoma from so-called “Fiesta Fatigue” by taking the Sooners had they lost Saturday to Oklahoma State. Per BCS procedure, the Sugar would actually had to take Oklahoma State with the first overall pick then wait until the selection procedure was over before working the trade for the Sooners.

Oklahoma has been in the Fiesta Bowl three of the last five years. The Sooners have played in New Orleans once since 1972. That was the 2003 BCS title game against LSU. The trade, of course, was predicated on LSU and Alabama remaining 1-2 in the BCS. It is allowable per the BCS contract. 

The Sugar ended up with Michigan and Virginia Tech.

“I was working with Neinas throughout the week prior to selections on a possible Oklahoma trade …” Hoolahan said. “We had that greased and ready to go.”

“A lot of time was spent looking at that,” he added. “A lot of time was spent looking at similar situations regarding Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech’s name didn’t come in out of the blue.”

A second source from the Fiesta Bowl confirmed the trade talks. Neinas did not immediately return a call for comment. Because it lost both LSU and Alabama as SEC anchors, the Sugar had the first and third picks in the BCS process. Michigan was the first pick.

While the trade talk doesn’t directly address the reason why Kansas State was left out of the Sugar Bowl, it does begin to explain the Sugar Bowl’s thinking. It needed a so-called “anchor” team to pair with a second participant. Michigan became a worthy choice and the potential trade was off when Oklahoma State beat the Sooners.

The Wolverines return to New Orleans for the first time since 1984. If there are less than 10 automatic BCS qualifiers, teams ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS standings that have won at least nine games are eligible for at-large selection. That explains the leeway BCS bowls have in creating their best matchup. 

An Oklahoma win in Bedlam likely would have put a second Big 12 team (Oklahoma State) in the BCS.  

While ticket sales didn’t figure to be issue in either of the possible games involving Michigan -- Michigan-Virginia Tech or Michigan-Kansas State – there are always television considerations. It could have been that Virginia Tech was a slightly better TV draw.

Virginia Tech itself is suffering from its own “Orange Bowl Fatigue” having been to South Florida as the ACC champion three out of the last four years. Still, the college football world wanted to know Monday why Virginia Tech made it over the more accomplished and higher-ranked Wildcats.

The two-loss Hokies come to New Orleans fresh off a four-touchdown beatdown from Clemson in the ACC title game. Virginia Tech beat one team (Georgia Tech) ranked at the time in the top 20. Its own coach, Frank Beamer, barely voted the Hokies within BCS at-large eligibility on his coaches’ poll ballot at No. 13. At-large teams in the top 14 are considered.

Meanwhile, Kansas State is ranked higher (No. 8, BCS) guided by a national coach of the year candidate in Bill Snyder.

Without getting into specifics, Hoolahan said it was  a matter of familiarity with Tech. “A fond relationship,” he called it. The Sugar contributed $250,000 to the school after the tragic shootings in 2007. This is the third time since 2000 and fourth time since 1995 the Hokies have been to New Orleans.

The Sugar Bowl doesn’t have a large volunteer base (125) which could also play into the decision. Compare that to the Fiesta Bowl which claims a volunteer base of close to 3,000. The Sugar is double-hosting in this BCS rotation, responsible for two BCS games within seven days.

With SEC powerhouses LSU and Alabama in the championship game, it could be one of the biggest and busiest weeks ever for the Sugar Bowl infrastructure. Anything to make the job easier – i.e. selecting a known commodity in Virginia Tech – could help.

Hoolahan called it inviting a “long-time friend and partner.”

The Sugar could also feel it is owed the freedom to make such a pick. Since 2008, it has hosted non-BCS schools Hawaii and Utah as well as the Big East’s Cincinnati. Essentially, the Sugar Bowl may feel it shouldn’t be criticized when it has taken teams with ticket and TV draw issues in recent years.

Those are lingering consequences of the BCS that will start to be dealt with when the commissioners meet next Jan. 10 in New Orleans.

Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Arizona replaces Sgt. Hulka with ... Rich Rod

CBS Sports Network loses an analyst. Arizona gets a future.

That’s my first impression after hearing that Rich Rodriguez is taking the Arizona job. Just about the perfect hire. Rich Rod is hungry and wants to prove himself after the Michigan detour. Arizona needs to be revitalized. Rodriguez needs a job.

In short, Rich Rodriguez fits in Tucson. It is a laidback town, one of those big-little towns that isn’t pretentious. Larger than Morgantown, not as tradition-bound as Ann Arbor. In terms of sideline demeanor, Rodriguez is the antithesis of Mike Stoops. Arizona just traded Sgt. Hulka for this guy. 

That’s motivation.

Let’s be honest: Both sides needed rejuvenation. The Michigan thing just didn’t work out. Stoops had worn out his welcome. This just made Arizona matter again.

You can believe Rich Rod will attract top quarterbacks. No word on who he’ll get as defensive coordinator, but you can be sure Wildcat football will be exciting again. This is a new era in the Pac-12 and for the only team in the old Pac-10 never to play in the Rose Bowl, this is a home run.

 

 


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:44 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Son of WWL is the petulant offspring of Weekend Watch List. This week it weighs in on the LSU-Alabama rematch.

 


Before the teams even kick it off Saturday LSU-Alabama II has filled minds, cyberspace and column inches.

That’s the world we live in. If Tigers-Tide is good, a rematch in the BCS championship game could be better – depending. Depending on a very narrow set of circumstances.

First, ask yourself. Do you even want to see the Game of the (11-year-old) Century again, two months later? Is that even fair? Here’s my take on how it could happen:

--LSU has to lose Saturday’s game. Alabama is favored and playing at home. The pollsters probably wouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt to the Crimson Tide in this scenario if they lose. It doesn’t matter that LSU is No. 1. Alabama is No. 2 and perceived to be the better team playing at home before 101,821 fans and Bear Bryant growling in the background. Literally.

--LSU has to play well and lose a close game, preferably at the gun and preferably by a 55-yard field goal or something like that. That would resurrect the oldest line in show business: Always leave them wanting more.

--LSU has to win the rest of its games which at this point include Western Kentucky, a trip to Ole Miss and at home against Arkansas. It would help, a lot, if LSU blew out the Hogs. That would be the lasting impression the Tigers would leave in the minds of the voters who would still have to wade through two more Saturdays of football. (Arkansas-LSU is on Friday, Nov. 25).

It was a different set of circumstances but don’t forget LSU lost to Arkansas in 2007 and still went to the BCS title game with two losses. That’s one indication of how powerful an SEC team is in the BCS standings.

--Stanford and Oklahoma State have to lose. At least. The feeling is that LSU would at least have a chance to pass an undefeated Boise State in the BCS. While that’s no certainty, the SEC has gotten the benefit of the doubt before (see above).

“I’m a believer,” Steve Spurrier said, “that if a rematch does occur, the formula we have in place is to get the best two teams in the game.”

Spurrier should know a little bit about the subject. Florida beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl rematch to win the 1996 national championship.


Why it won’t happen

 

--The loser will have had its chance … No one wants to see the game again … Give someone else a chance.

All those are valid arguments and have already manifested themselves five years ago. Michigan lost the last regular-season 1-2 game at Ohio State 42-39 in 2006. On the last day of the season (two weeks later) the Wolverines – No. 3 in the BCS at the time -- were edged out by SEC champ Florida after No. 2 USC was upset by UCLA. Michigan actually gained in the polls and computers, but enough losing out to Florida by .0134 of a point.

--SEC voter fatigue. WWL has no evidence that this exists but after five consecutive national championships who is to say that – if it’s close – human nature won’t take over? In other words, why not give someone else a chance?

--The loser won’t play on the last day of the season (Dec. 3) when a lot of statements can be made. If Alabama wins big in the SEC title game, that will be another reason not to elevate LSU to No. 2. Boise State could complete an undefeated season with what figures to be a complete obliteration of New Mexico.

--The loser better not fall too far. In the 13-year history of the BCS no team that finished out of the top two in the final regular-season polls played for the national championship. Nebraska played for the title in was fourth in 2001 in the AP and coaches poll. Oregon finished but was relegated to the Fiesta Bowl.

 

 

Something to chew on, and spit out: What’s wrong with this world when Barry Switzer gets a statue at Oklahoma 22 years after leaving the school and Nick Saban got one at Alabama after his fourth? … Where have you gone Mike Leach? Last week against Iowa State, Texas Tech failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in five years … Unbelievable: Iowa and UCLA still control their own fate in their conferences. Iowa, 5-3, can still win the Legends Division despite a horrific loss last week to Minnesota. The Bruins, 4-4, are in the thick of things in the Pac-12 South. They host division leader Arizona State this week … Penn State’s Silas Redd led the nation in rushing in October with 703 yards … Louisville travels to West Virginia looking for its first three-game Big East winning streak in five years … Unless a meteor hits, Boise’s Kellen Moore should set the record for career wins by a quarterback. Moore is 45-2 as a starter going into the UNLV game.

Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:34 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Son of WWL: Les Miles will do the right thing

Les Miles will do the right thing.

Ever since CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy noted that LSU’s suspended players may face a two-game suspension due to failed drug tests, there has to be a lot of hand-wringing in Baton Rouge.

A two-game suspension would put the Nov. 5 Alabama game in play. LSU can get by without Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon Saturday against Auburn. Alabama is a different matter.

In a game that is shaping up as a national semifinal, Miles needs all hands available. I believe he will do the right thing and hold those players out of the Alabama game – if the players are subject to a two-game suspension.

It’s a logical conclusion that the players face a two-game suspension – at least. The original report said the players failed a drug test. The NCAA doesn’t test for street drugs like synthetic marijuana, the drug named in the report. The SEC doesn’t test for drugs. It is the conference’s policy that each school have its own drug-testing policy.

That leaves LSU. If the report is true, there are some tough decisions ahead. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the suspensions will be only one game

We probably will never know that for sure about any drug-test issues. Any failed drug test falls under privacy laws protecting students. Unless the students or their parents admit to a failed test, the reason for the suspensions could remain a secret.

That doesn’t relieve Miles, or his AD Joe Alleva, from doing the right thing. I believe they will. Miles took decisive action on Jordan Jefferson, even though the quarterback was eventually charged with only misdemeanor battery.

There a lot of schools that would have gone to the wall to keep their starting quarterback on the field. LSU wasn’t one of them. Miles was behind that.

In a world gone mad with conference realignment and unethical conduct, it would be nice to see LSU/Miles set a standard.

 


WWL has a sworn duty not to give free publicity to apparel makers during their hideous assault on traditional uniforms. But this item could not be ignored.

It’s a perfect time to draw attention to the players who are on the field for LSU against Auburn. The Tigers will be wearing their Pro Combat unis.

Meanwhile, the damage was done last week at Michigan State. While the words “good taste” didn’t enter the conversation in describing the Alabama-Birminghamish uniforms, there was one cool aspect to them.

On the back of the Spartans’ Pro Combat jerseys worn last week against Michigan is the Greek phrase, “Molon Labe.” Translated, it means “come and take them.” It is an expression of defiance spoken by King Leonidas I to the Persian army which had demanded the Spartans lay down their weapons.

Wow, these guys are serious. Used to be the most damage at a Michigan State game was caused by brat juice dripping on your new fleece.



Maybe it’s not Urban Meyer. Maybe it’s just being a Gator. There have been arrests at Florida in the last calendar year.



How long does Denard Robinson have as Michigan's quarterback? Devin Gardner is bigger, stronger and definitely has a more accurate arm. That’s not saying much given D-Rob’s 52 percent completion percentage.

But the feeling among many is that if Robinson, a junior, is around next season he will be converted to a slot receiver, wildcat or some sort of other unique weapon. Michigan State exposed him as an inaccurate thrower who couldn’t get outside against a quality defense.

Michigan has another week to figure things out before hosting Purdue. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Michigan State wins fourth in a row vs. UM

If this is how the Big Ten is going to be won, we surrender.

Actually, the two coaches surrendered -- to the wind. Michigan and Michigan State took the game back 35 years to a point where Bo and Woody would have been asked to open it up.  It was the wind, for gosh sakes, not an attack by Godzilla.

The Spartans eventually remained the monster in the Legends Division, beating their rivals for the fourth consecutive time.

There they were -- Michigan's Brady Hoke and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio -- playing a Big Ten showdown like it was 1976. They gave in to a 35-mph westerly wind at Spartan Stadium like it was a 12th man on the field.

They went 55 plays between the first and third quarters without a point. Together, they punted the ball seven consecutive times in the first half. They might as well have taken their playbooks and burned them. Hoke and Dantonio were going to let the elements decide it.

Finally, the Spartans broke a 7-7 halftime tie -- against the wind -- with a pair of third-quarter Kirk Cousins passes to Keshawn Martin, then held on. Martin did his best to both win and lose the game. In addition to those two touchdowns, he had three drops and a fumble.

Safety Isaiah Lewis sealed it with a 39-yard yard interception return of Michigan's Denard Robinson.

There's a long way to go but for now the Spartans (5-1, 2-0) have taken control in the Big Ten Legends Division.

Next up: What looks like a Big Ten championship game preview with Wisconsin. 

Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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